Three days later, my manager calls to tell me that I'd been with the show's ecutive producer and one of the creators and they want me to audition." Less than a week after that, Jessica was on her way to New York. Of course, she was originally booked for only a three-episode stint; three seasons later, she's still around.Her character, Vanessa, who at first "had only Dan Humphrey as a friend," has become an integral part of the show, romancing Nate, scheming against Blair, and, yes, engaging in a controversy-baiting (if mostly off-camera) three-way."I think NYU is good for Vanessa," Jessica says, smiling.

"It can be a little awkward," she admits, "when all of a sudden [you have feelings for] someone you'd call to talk about a different boyfriend.

But there wasn't a lot of thinking and talking. We had fun together, and we were like, ' All right, let's see where this goes.'"So far, it's going somewhere good.

"He's a really rad guy," Jessica says when asked what she likes about Ed.

Her costars have helped: "We're all young," she explains, "and everyone was new to New York, so we've had so much fun.

I've heard horror stories from other actors about egos, people who don't get along, but we're all friends.

There are people from this job who will be in my life for a very, very long time." Including, perhaps, her boyfriend and castmate, Ed Westwick?The two hooked up more than a year ago, after first getting to know each other, Jessica says, "as friends." Once both were single, they decided to give romance a shot. When they do, the actress usually responds with a friendly, "I get that." (Slightly tougher to take are the clueless types who say she resembles a certain TV star—only "cuter." Because, really, she wonders, "what is that supposed to mean?") A little confusion, though, is understandable: When the 24-year-old turns up for her interview at a très chic West Village gastro-pub, she's swaddled in sweaters.Her thick, dark hair is pulled into a ponytail and she's wearing very little makeup.She's beautiful, to be sure, but she lacks the bleached-blonde, high-gloss, look-at-me exterior so common among young female celebrities.: "Two of my friends in L. invited me to this Labor Day barbecue, but I really just wanted to stay on the couch with my French bulldog," she says. "I remember hanging out by the pool in an old T-shirt and jean shorts, just talking to people.